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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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A fitness club borne from a health insurance company wellness committee aims to keep Genoa school district employees on track physically.

The Genoa Health Club debuted Oct. 1 with a coordinated walk/run about the Genoa High School track and grounds. Subsequent Mondays this month provide more opportunities to walk, ride bikes, enjoy low-impact aerobics and play a friendly  game of dodge ball with the students, Superintendent Dennis Mock.

“They’ve really got a lot going on in this first month,” Mock added. The idea, he said, is to make fitness fun and easily stream healthy changes into personal lifestyles.

The club was created by the district’s wellness committee, a group that meets the requirements of the district’s health insurance plan provided by Medical Mutual through a consortium. Other consortium members include Woodmore, Gibsonburg, Oak Harbor, Vanguard, Port Clinton, Put-in-Bay and Clyde.

Genoa has been a member of the consortium for more than 25 years and provides two health plans, Plan 5 and Plan 6, for its certified staff of 89, classified staff of 56 as well as the administrative staff.

The wellness committee is made up of members of those staffing segments, led by the district’s nurse Joanie Brunkhorst. She notes the district has had a wellness committee of its own for six years and recently began to fine tune its program to the opportunities offered by the insurance company.

She credits gym teacher Randy Grosjean for the fitness ideas. “We are going to have a calendar of events. Once a month we’re going to have something with the students. We’re a little nervous. It’s just getting off the ground.”

Adding to the anxiety is the battle for gym time. With the Genoa High School gym under renovation, the nearby middle school and elementary gyms are handling the overflow from varsity sports and physical education.

Variety is the key as well as fun. “We are trying not to scare people off … we just want to get them moving,” Brunkhorst said.

Staff members recently underwent baseline assessments to get their health profiles established. The checkup included blood draws to check things such as cholesterol and sugar counts, height and weight stats as well as Body Mass Index.

“There are five categories, and you’ll get X amount of points for meeting targets set for you,” Mock explained. “This is kind of our training year.”

Next fall, after the first year, as staff makes changes to improve their health, they will acquire points that will bring down their personal share of health insurance plan costs, he explained.

At present, the administration staff pays for 20 percent of their plan, with the Genoa Board of Education picking up the remaining 80 percent. The certified staff takes on 15 percent of the burden, with a sliding scale that eventually reaches 20 percent. And classified staff members’ premium shares are based on their work hours.  “It could be an 80/20 share, a 50/50 or full coverage paid by the employee. It just depends on the hours worked,” Schools Treasurer Bill Nye said.

The opportunity to reduce those costs is especially critical now, Mock added.

The consortium is facing an increase of 18 to 25 percent in health care costs across the board next year.

The problem is, he said, several districts overshot the stop-loss figure set by the company.

Nye explained that the district carries $250,000 on each employee. “If the claims go over that, we are a self-funding consortium and have to make up the difference,” he said.

Premium costs swing like a pendulum from year to year based on the claims. Costs have increased in a range from 3 percent annually to 19 percent yearly in the last couple of years. “Basically, it amounts to we’re spending more than we’re bringing in and we have to deal with it. You’re always trying to catch up,” Nye said.

“Unfortunately, it’s not going to get any better,” Nye added, given the state of the insurance industry in the United States.

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